Thursday, October 12, 2017

Life-Saving Testimony

Decades ago my father took a troop of scouts down to the jungles of Chihuahua, Mexico, to bring non-perishable food to Native American clinics as an Eagle project (things were a little different back then). Near the completion of their trip, my dad ran out of gas after dark. He left his companions with the truck as he walked the empty road in search of a gas station.

Eventually the truck disappeared from view and he was completely alone. In the distance headlights appeared, causing a wave of relief to pass over him. He stuck out his thumb hopefully, and to his delight the car screeched to a halt. Four men got out of the car and asked him what was going on, and after explaining the situation, they invited him into their vehicle.

As my father entered the car, beer cans crunched beneath his feet and he tried not to cough on the stench of tobacco. He was put in the middle seat, scrunched between two strangers. The hope he had felt vanished as he began to suspect that something was amiss.

They eventually came to a gas station, but it was closed. This didn't stop these strangers. They kicked open the door, terrifying the teenage clerk as he woke up behind the register. The men yelled at the boy, telling him to get my dad some gas, and the boy hastily complied. As they left, my dad sheepishly thanked the young man and paid him more than the gas cost.

Gas in hand, my dad returned to the car, which tore out of the gas station. As their speed grew faster and faster, my father realized that they were going the wrong way. He tried to speak, but fear overcame him. He knew that this detour was intentional.

Soon their vehicle pulled off the road. Through the windows my father perceived several men standing in the dark, only illuminated by their cigarettes and dim moonlight. The two men that sat on either side of him left the vehicle but were replaced instantly with new strangers. He heard arguing outside regarding "the gringo."

The man in the front passenger seat turned around and looked at my dad. After taking a long drag, he blew his lungs' worth of smoke into my dad's face. My father closed his eyes to try to keep himself from panicking.

"You wanna smoke?" the man said, and my father's heart began to race. His instant instinct was to accept the cigarette in an attempt to make peace with the strangers. However, he knew what his Heavenly Father would want. He quivered as he said "No, thank you."

As expected, the man leaned back and peered through narrowed eyes. In confusion he asked "You don't smoke?"

"No sir," my father replied. "I'm a Mormon."

The man's eyes widened for a moment, then he stared off into space. "I was a Mormon many years ago"

This revelation came as a bit of a shock to my dad. They didn't have time to discuss it because the man suddenly got out of the car and walked over to the arguing crowd of men, leaving the door open.

My father, being fluent in Spanish, overheard the debate and realized that most of the men wanted to kill him because my father had "seen too much." My dad began to pray for his family whom he anticipated would soon be fatherless.

Suddenly, the strangers on either side of him were replaced with the original men and the man who had been in the passenger seat jumped into the driver's seat. They pulled out and sped back to my father's truck and his waiting friends. The driver looked my dad in the eyes and desperately whispered "Get out of here as fast as you possibly can, do you hear me?!" My dad quickly emptied the gas can into his tank and took off into the night.

What would have happened if my father hadn't told the truth and stood as a witness of Christ? His sole defender, standing between him and death, didn't seem to care until my dad essentially bore his testimony.

Will we always be spared of pain or discomfort when we bear our testimonies? No. The scriptures are full of examples where that simply is not the case. However, we shouldn't let this intimidate us.

Sometimes, when I bear my testimony, people feel judged, not necessarily from the words I say, but that I have chosen a path where morality isn't relative. I really dislike that people feel judged simply by my position. I try to be Christlike and not condescending in the bearing of my testimony.

Perhaps I've digressed. My point is that our Heavenly Father is aware of our testimonies and forgives us of our sins when we testify of Him (D&C 62:3), and in some situations enacts miracles as a result of our witnesses (Daniel 3:26).

I know that the Church is true and beautiful. Following the commandments is not always easy, but it is simple. Our Heavenly Father hears each word that we say. Let us find hope in His grace and bear witness of Him at all times, in all things, and in all places.


  1. This is so important. Thank you for this reminder today.

  2. Wow, what an incredible story about your dad.

  3. Are you saying that because your father says he didn't smoke, this equates to bearing a testimony of the Savior? How, exactly? I say this with respect, I sincerely would like to know....

    1. He told the man he didn’t smoke because he was a Mormon. The man knew this meant that my father followed Christ.

  4. It was a fascinating story!
    I think it is also worth considering the idea that your dad lived and came to no harm because it was not in God's plan for him to be harmed, and it was not his time to die.

    There is an unfortunate side-effect of faith promoting stories whenever a moral is attached to them. It can send a message that our Heavenly Father is in the business of doling out rewards and punishments for everything we say and do.

    For example, moralizing that because your Dad didn't smoke and said he was a Mormon meant he was "rewarded" with his life also suggests that if he HAD smoked or denied he was a Mormon (or chosen any other number of scenarios) then he may have been “punished” with harm or death.

    The only thing we know for certain is that your Dad lived that night. Although, I do think it is safe to say he experienced something quite amazing and miraculous. Beyond that, we get to live with the mystery.

    The scriptures teach that ‘God is “no respecter of persons”. Jesus taught that God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” In other words, people who choose to sin and do everything “wrong” still get “rewards” (blessings, happiness, good things), and people who choose to do good and try to do everything “right” still receive “punishments” (trials, heartaches, bad things).


    I have no answers, and I get very annoyed when anyone says that they do! Life is full of ambiguity. There are no answers, only questions. I am living in a much more complex and elegantly designed universe than my little brain and mortal consciousness can grasp. How marvelous!!

    The older I get, the more I have found that life is much more complex than I heard in Sunday School. As much as my heart longs to have simple solutions, easy answers, and happily ever-afters, there are none. Because if I did, that would mean there would hae to be an end to learning, and growing, and stretching my mind, and BECOMING. Having all of the answers would mean coming to the end of truth. So, I am VERY thankful for ambiguity and I EMBRACE all of the mystery and lost meaning! (see Hymn #284 - If You Could Hie To Kolob)

    So, perhaps the catch phrase I would have chosen for your post is:

    "Following the commandments is not easy because understanding the commandments is never simple."

    Lots to ponder.